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B.C. couple ordered to remove laminate flooring after strata wins legal fight

Image Credit: PEXELS

A B.C. condo owner has been forced to rip up their new laminate flooring and will likely have to replace it with carpet after the strata took legal action over the new floor.

The issue started when condo owners Andrea and Elijah Beretta ripped up their existing laminate floor because it was old and worn and emailed the Strata NW313 manager about their renovations.

According to a Feb. 17 B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, the Beretta's said in the email they would not replace any carpets with laminate flooring and just replace like for like. They asked about the bylaws and the building manager sent them the building's bylaws.

A month later, the Beretta's sent another email to confirm their renovations were just about to start and again reiterated the flooring would be replaced with like-for-like materials.

They then went ahead and did the work.

However, a month later, the strata president contacted the couple saying there was a "rumour circulating" that they'd put new laminate floors in their living room, hallway and dining room.

The strata said the flooring was contrary to its "hard surface flooring" bylaw.

The Beretta's said as they already had laminate flooring throughout the entire main floor, which predated the bylaw that prohibited such flooring, they were allowed to install new laminate flooring.

The strata disagreed and ordered they remove the flooring.

The Beretta's refused, so the strata took legal action and launched a case at the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal.

READ MORE: B.C. couple sue strata after multiple attempts to block renos

In the decision, the Tribunal parses through the building's bylaws

"(The) bylaw... contains no retroactive exemption for strata lots with pre-existing laminate flooring, and no exemption for flooring replacements," the Tribunal ruled. "I find there is nothing in the bylaws that permits 'like-for-like' replacement of old hard flooring with new hard flooring."

The Tribunal ruled that while the couple could have kept their old laminate flooring, they weren't allowed to install new laminate flooring.

Separately, the Beretta's also argued that the strata treated them "significantly" unfairly as they'd informed the strata multiple times in writing about the new flooring and the strata hadn't objected until it was installed.

In deciding this, the Tribunal looked at the exact wording of the emails in which the Beretta's had sent.

One email said they'd be replacing "all flooring and underlay in home, with same material as already pre-existing in (the) entrance, stairwells, main floor and top floor."

However, the Tribunal said the email didn't specifically say the laminate flooring would be installed in the living room or dining room.

READ MORE: Kelowna man loses legal battle with strata over vacation rental

The Beretta's argued that some strata council members knew the entire main floor of the condo was laminate and they assumed there would be no problem.

"If the Berettas had specifically informed the strata that they planned to replace the laminate flooring in their living room and other areas outside those permitted in (the) bylaw, they would likely have had a reasonable expectation that the strata would not later object," the Tribunal ruled "However, since the Berettas’ correspondence with the strata did not explicitly say where they planned to install laminate flooring, I find their expectation was unreasonable."

The Tribunal then gave the couple three months to remove their new laminate flooring and replace it with flooring that doesn't meet the definition of "hard surface flooring," – which will likely be carpet.

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